Alpha Lipoic Acid

Convert glucose into energy

Alpha lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant that is made by the body and found in every cell, where it helps to convert glucose into energy.

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Whilst other antioxidants are water soluble, ALA is both fat and water soluble, which means that it can work throughout the body.

In the body, antioxidants are used up as they attack free radicals, but evidence suggests that ALA may help to regenerate antioxidants. ALA is converted into dihydrolipoic acid in the cells of the body.

Diabetes

ALA appears to help reduce blood sugar levels. In Germany, ALA has also been used for some time to treat peripheral neuropathy. A number of studies have found that intravenous (IV) ALA is effective, but it is not clear as to whether taking oral ALA will help.

ALA may help autonomic neuropathy, which affects the nerves to internal organs. A study found that 73 people with cardiac autonomic neuropathy showed fewer signs when taking 800 mg of oral ALA compared to placebo.

Dietary sources

ALA is created in the healthy body and is found in red meat, organ meats and yeast, particularly brewer’s yeast.

Brain function and stroke

ALA can easily pass into the brain and, therefore, may help protect the brain and nerve tissue. ALA is being investigated as a potential treatment for stroke and other brain problems involving free radical damage, such as dementia.

Preliminary studies suggest that ALA may help treat glaucoma, but there is not enough evidence to say for sure whether it works.

A study on ageing skin suggests that 5% lipoic acid helps to reduce fine lines from sun damage.

Available forms

ALA supplements are available as capsules and IV infusion.

Precautions and side effects

  • Side effects are generally rare and may include a skin rash.
  • ALA can be combined with diabetes drugs to lower blood sugar levels, raising the risk of hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar.
  • Chemotherapy medications – ALA may interfere with some chemotherapy medications.
  • Thyroid medications, Levothyroxine – ALA may lower levels of thyroid hormones.

Source: Alpha-lipoic acid | University of Maryland Medical Center